The Government needs to rethink a “blanket” quarantine on travellers into Ireland and should instead risk-assess air routes, countries, and regions, a group representing pilots says.
The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) is urging the Government to tailor any quarantine requirement to different regions and routes rather than requiring all travellers into the country to quarantine for 14 days. IALPA president Evan Cullen said a “more evidence-based approach” is needed to get the airline sector running again.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have provided guidance for the sector. The EU guidelines include safety measures, such as intensive cleaning and sanitisation of airports and aircraft, the wearing of masks, and pre-flight screening.
Mr Cullen said, however, it is not clear if the Department of Transport has adopted these guidelines.
“We’re not aware of their definitive position on this or what their response is to the EU guidelines,” he said.
Some countries and regions, he said, have managed Covid-19 better than others and would pose less risk.
“The Canary Islands have managed the situation very well,” said Mr Cullen. “They have a very low infection rate and very low death rate. So what is wrong with people flying between Dublin and the Canary Islands, subject to signing the relevant forms and documentation and wearing masks?”
He said regions and routes could be risk assessed using information collated by European agencies to tailor quarantine requirements to the level of risk.
“There is a more informed way of doing this than to issue a blanket generalised quarantine,” said Mr Cullen.
“Every few days, information is published on the extent of risk associated with each airport and each region of Europe. The Department of Transport could sit down, say twice a week, and assess each region and risk and then assign mitigation measures to flights that come from that region. We think that is a more sensible approach.”
Air traffic in and out of Ireland is operating at less than 5% of normal traffic volumes, he said.
“The industry is in meltdown at the moment. There’s no other way to look at it,” said Mr Cullen. “We want an evidence-based approach to how we can get back to flying again.”
From tomorrow, passengers coming into the country must complete a Covid-19 passenger locator form, designed to help with contact tracing should someone on a flight or ferry be confirmed as having Covid-19.